The Type 053 frigates (NATO Jianghu, Jiangwei and Jiangdong) formed the backbone of Chinese PLAN frigate force from 1977, until recently. They were all derived from an attempt to make a better design than 1950s Riga-class Type 065 Chengdu and its attempted modified copy, the Type 065 jiangnan. The same No. 701 Institute (Wuhan) designed the Type 053K (Kong meaning “air-defence”) as a derivative of the Type 065 as requested by the Admiralty in the mid-1960s. They were specifically tailored to escort the new Type 051 Luda class destroyers. In fact, this became the largest class of warships of that tonnage built in China in the 1970-80s, many of which were also exported to four countries, which was also new. From this grand total, 13 are still active and 11 retired from the PLAN, replaced since by far more capable units like the 2007 054A (Jiangkai-class). The complete class was almost 59 ships strong with eight sub-classes. Here we will focus of the first class, the AA frigate Type 053K (Jiangdong). “Jiangdong” was spelt also “Kiang Tung” in pinyin.
Design of the Type 053
The first draft were made by 701 Institute in 1965-67. On paper, the PLAN’s requirements included three screws, a combined gas-turbine combined with diesel engine producing a speed of 38 knots and four shafts. Unfortunately in reality these optimistic figures were never approached. After struggling with what equipments and skills were available, the team went back to a more reasonable twin diesel engines only, turning two screws at 30 knots top speed (on trials). Design speed was 26 knots; From there, the serie diverged between the sea-air-warfare (053K) and the next 053H (Hai for anti-ship) which will diverge a lot between variants. But both ship versions shared most components and their hull. The latter was derived from the previous classes, but machines arrangements meant it was flush deck again, but still with a relatively high prow. Displacement for the Type 053 class as a whole ranged between 1,700 to 2,000 tons, lenght 103 m, beam 10.8 to 11.3 m, 3.05 to 3.19 m draft. The intial hull was a derivative of the Riga-class shape, and seemed a good stopgap solution to provide the Chinese PLAN a much-needed AA escort at the time.
Details of the Type 053K 531 Yingtan at Qindao, notice in particular the HQ-61 SAM
The Type 053K (NATO Jiangdong class) frigates in detail
This was the fast AA version, but proved a failure, due to a very late entry into service with the planned armament (from being laid down in 1970 to the mid-1980s) and were retired after barely eight or nine year of active service in full commission, with only two built. Long development time for their final armament and possibly severe vibrations or performances issues condemned the serie. The first 053K was 531 Yingtan, laid down in 1971 and 1972, launched 1973 and 1974 but only commissioned in 1977 and as seen above, left without armament for years. 532 Zhongdong was the second ship. Considering they only received full commisssion with their planned armament in the mid-1980s and they were withdrawn from service in 1992, this was a fairly short active life. So we can consider them almost as testbed frigates. The first was scrapped in 1994 while the other was turned into a museum ship in Qingdao. According to Conways, 532 Zhongdong was even discarded while still incomplete in 1982. There are very rare photos of the 531 Yingtan, and now closeups are possible at Qindao naval base, where the ship is preserved apparently since 1995, under maintenance by PLAN staffs. Due to their very sketchy service life and of course official discretion about this class, the Type 053K should be considered an intermediary test class. The hull and most details were reused in the successful next Type 53H class anyway, so it was an important step forward in chinese Frigate design.
Stern view of the Type 053K 531 Yingtan at Qindao, showing the 1986-patterned automated 100mm DP twin mount
The Type 053Ks received HQ-61 surface-to-air missiles launched from two twin-armed launchers on fore and aft superstructure, and reload hatches below. But these systems took time to be fully operational and entered service from 1986. They also had two new 100 mm automated Chinese-designed turrets (22 km range) which were delayed to about the same period. This was completed by two Chinese-built quadruple 37 mm AAA semi-turrets derived from a Soviet design. For ASW warfare, the ships were also equipped with two five-tubes rocket launchers Type 62 (1.2 km range) on the forward deck and two rear deep charge racks. Electronics equipments are pretty much unknown in detail, although photos shows soviet-derived 1970s possibly upgraded electronic navigation air and surface detection radars plus SAM guidance system.
HQ-61 in action – credits fas.org via wikipedia
The HQ-61 SAMs were the Chinese first generation general-purpose SAMs, introduced in 1986 and developed by Shanghai Aerospace Bureau. They weighted 310 kg, for 3.99 m in lenght and a diameter of 28,6 cm, wingspan of 116 cm, armed with a HE warhead with Impact/Proximity fuses, propelled by a rocket motor with solid fuel and capable of a 10 km radius with a 8 km ceiling at Mach 3. The HQ-61 was guided by SARH/ARH systems.
Type 053K (NATO Jiangdong class 1986 specs)
|Dimensions||Length 103 x 10,8 x 3,1 m|
|Displacement||1674 tonnes, 1924 tonnes FL|
|Propulsion||2 shafts, two diesels engines, 14,000 hp|
|Speed||26 knots as designed|
|Armament||2×2 100 mm DP, 2×2 HQ-61B SAM, 2×4 37mm AAA, 2×5 ASW RL, DC rack|
Full photo (the BG is cropped) showing the Yingtan and a Luda-class destroyer preserved as museum ships at Qindao.
Type 053H (NATO Jianghu class) frigates
Specs for the H class: The beam was 10.8 meter (35.4 foot), Draft 3.19 meter (10.5 foot), Length 103 meter (339 foot),
The Dragon’s Teeth: The Chinese People’s Liberation Army—Its History By Benjamin Lai
Type 053H2G ASuW frigate
On deagel.com – Type-053H
About the HQ61 SAM on globalsecurity.org
Closupt photos of 2012 modified type 053 frigate zhaotong (555)
Conways’ all the world fighting ships 1947-1995